Dating/Befriending the Disabled

There is a woman in our neighborhood who is attractive, but blind. I see her out on walks a lot with her guide dog. I often wonder how an interested fellow would go about chatting her up. (note, this is purely hypothetical, I’m not in the market for dates, although from a friendship standpoint it’s still valid). Normally when I meet someone I make some comment about something going on, or an object of interest. But it would seem that for someone who can’t see, the approach would have to be much more direct.

When I was in High School, the local school system had just started “mainstreaming” kids who would have otherwise been in special schools. This was mostly kids who were developmentally challenged, but also included a few sight or hearing impair kids. There were two kids, Kathy and Jim, who were in most of my high level classes. Kathy was the smartest kid in school, and ended up as our valedictorian. She was completely blind. Jim was legally blind and that actually seemed a bit more odd to us, as he could see but had to have his face less than an inch from the printed material in order to see it. Kathy was quiet but took notes via some sort of braille typying machine. No one ever talked to them. This may have been because they were different, but I think it was just as much just an awkward thing to strike up a conversation. There was never really an opening to do so.

For a while there was a deaf boy on my soccer teams. He was a decent athlete, but you couldn’t really yell to him that the ball was coming, which added an element of challenge. He was never really included as part of the team, in the sense that there was no way to make little jokes, rude comments about the coach, etc. I remember an episode of West Wing, where, iirc, Josh asks out Marlee Matlin’s character. But she had an interpreter, and she could read lips, so it wasn’t a huge obstacle, but it was still an obstacle. Likewise, the scenes with the Japanese girl in Babel were poignant to me because of the difficulties she faced in being accepted by regular boys.

Anyway, I’d appreciate any insight in how to go about including people like these instead of awkwardly ignoring them. Looking back now, it would seem obvious to have maybe made an effort with our soccer team to learn some basic signing skills, for example, but it was just not really thought of at the time.

I dated a girl who is a paraplegic for a three months. I saw her at a Toronto cafe and thought she was absolutely beautiful, so I said hi and we started talking. After a few casual talks we went on a date, and things progressed from there. After a few months she moved from Toronto for business and we broke up.

My advice is treat her as you would treat any other girl, blind or not. If normally you approach a girl and start talking about the weather, do the same. It worked for me.

Watch Red Dragon for a great primer on how to romance a beautiful blind woman. :smiley:

If you normally talk about things you see to start conversation, then do the same, but with another sense that you both share.

“Mmmm…I love the smell of the grass after the rain…”

“Hey, it must be autumn; all the leaves are crackling!”

“That shop over there has the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Can I treat you to a cup?”

And don’t be all flustered and awkward if you use the word “see” or tell her to look at something. She’s used to it, believe me.

Why? You can’t go up to a blind person and say “It’s really nice out today”? The last thing you should do is approach her as a disabled person, feeling you should use a different approach.

You might try talking about her dog. “That’s a German shepard, right? It appears to be a good dog. How long have you had it?” Don’t start with it being a Guide Dog.

The best thing to do is approach her like you would anyone else.

My dad was physically disabled - not hugely, but one leg was shorter than the other by 7". Mom has said she never really noticed it until people pointed it out.

Back in high school I dated a guy who was legally blind. Granted, going and seeing movies was a bit of a waste, but he would still do it. We spent the majority of our time just talking which, as a 16 year old dating another 16 year old, was quite novel. Sadly, he moved away and he found someone else.

My best buddy has a son who is developmentally challenged. He’s 15, but reads on a 2nd grade level and has a speech impediment. He’s also the boy that we’ve decided will be marrying my daughter :slight_smile: Yes, they both know it. No, we don’t mean it. But they do have crushes on each other. My daughter is very eloquent and reads college level books just for giggles. She is patient with him and doesn’t tease him. On the flip side, HE is extremely talented with manual things - has the ability to figure out how things work VERY fast. My daughter? Not so much. So he is patient with her and explains things to her. It all works out.

Hey, for all that he was what he was, he did romance her in an incredible way.

I second to just start chatting with her. Chances are she’s sick unto death of people treating her all special because of her disability.

It might be because I’m not the sort that will initiate some conversation without first making eye contact of some sort, or noticing what the other person is noticing. When she’s walking down the street, she doesn’t stop or dwell on objects like a sighted person would. She’s all business. She also is often running/jogging, which is normally a head nod, smile, and a quick hello. But I feel like just shouting hello at someone who may or may not know I’m there might spook them or freak them out a bit. This might be misplaced, but it’s really how I feel. If she were at one of the neighborhood block parties, just standing around or chatting it would be one thing, but I’ve never seen her at those (she doesn’t live on our block, so I’m not sure this is a choice or lack of invitation due to proximity).

FWIW, her dog is a Visla or Weirmeraner, which might be a good opening, “What kind of dog is that, a Visla?” (spelling?) It is a beautiful dog.

As someone who’s married someone with cerebral palsy, dated someone with MS who occasionally needed a wheelchair, and generally hung out with differently abled people the best advice is the same as approaching anyone. Be yourself, be polite, be genuine. (ok, if "yourself"isnt polite and genuine, then uh maybe you shouldn’t approach anyone…)

If you feel awkward, talk about it. Don’t let the blindness, or the wheelchair, or whatever be the elephant on the diningroom table, that everyone reaches around and no one does anything about…or comments on.

Well, he got off to a good start, anyway. Here’s the Francis Dolarhyde Six Step Romance Plan:

  1. offer ride
  2. show her the tiger
  3. accept the bj
  4. kill the other suitor
  5. burn the house down
  6. profit!

…he kind of loses me right around Step 4. :wink:

I think I know what you mean. Usually, I feel the same way…there has to be some kind of eye contact-connection before I really feel comfortable.

You like her right? Then stop making excuses and go for it! The land of the hypothetical is a murkish swamp that you’ll never get out of unless you put your courage to the sticking point and Just Do It! I can’t even count how many times I’ve been around girls I wanted to go out with and fubarred myself by thinking things like “oh, I cant do it because she’s X/Y/Z” or “I think I should try to be friends first,” or “it would be awkward,” or “I dont know how to approach her.” I’ve learned gradually that in 99% of cases there is no bad way to approach a woman.

If you’re still worried about an opener, then the dog thing and the coffee shop invitation are both wonderful ideas. Go talk to her and let us know how it goes. We’re all here cheering you on :slight_smile:

I’m married, Auto, this is truly hypothetical. If I befriend her and she turns out to be awesome, maybe I’ll introduce you. Heck, for all I know, she’s married, although I’ve never seen her walking around with any male, just some kids and a woman who looked as if she might be her sister. If I were single I’m sure I’d have worked something out by now, it’s just one of these curious hypothetical things that I ponder over.

Oh. Well, then… Argh, now I’m all flustered.

In junior high I had a friend who was deaf and nearly blind (she lived nearby–she went to a special school for the deaf but came home on many weekends and of course school holidays).

We went up to each other like any kids who lived in the neighborhood (except the really weird kid whose mother wouldn’t let him out of his yard until he was 14). Aside from really thick glasses she didn’t look particularly disabled and was jumping rope the first time I saw her. We were really good friends for about three years, until her father got promoted and she moved to a better city.

She could read lips, somewhat, but I learned sign language so we could communicate better. She was very smart and had a good sense of humor. Going to the movies with her could be a bit of a challenge but we did it. I remember going to see The Pink Panther and Charade, and she got everything I did, except the cool music.

ETA: Until about a year before I met her I, too, had worn really thick glasses, so I didn’t see that as much of an impediment.

This is funny. Just an hour ago I started chatting with a blind woman on campus. I asked what her dog’s name was, because I’m raising a guide puppy who is almost ready to go back, so working guides are fascinating to me. I kinda want to see how they act and compare my pup a little. Plus both of our dogs are black labs and cute as can be.

Its like when guys want to learn how to talk to women, both women and disabled people are just people. Say hi, introduce yourself, and let it go from there. Treat them like people.

Interesting. I’ve starting chatting with a blind guy on the bus to work.

Something must be going around. :slight_smile:

And somewhere in the past few days–and I cannot remember where–I saw a devastatingly-gorgeous woman using a guide dog to get around. I wish I remembered where. It’s been a long, weird week.

When I lived and worked in Michigan for a while there was a lawyer who came into the deli I worked at, usually on Fridays. He was blind, with a Black Lab for a guide dog. He, (the guy) was also kind of cute, but being as I didn’t wait table there wasn’t much of a chance to get to know him.

And let me tell you, from seeing service dogs in public places, I’d much rather have them around than some of the kids people have. The lawyer’s dog just curled up under the table and never made a sound, unlike some of the little ankle biters who would run around screeching and getting in the way.

Well, see what happens when you just go barging in there without a plan?! :smiley:

Damnit! Every time I see that thread title, I read that second word as “Beheading”…it’s getting kinda disturbing…